SALT LAKE CITY– If Utah were to graduate 90 percent of high school students, the state’s economy would be more productive by millions of dollars each year according to a new study from the national Alliance for Excellent Education.
“Every student has the potential to impact a community if he or she receives a high-quality education,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance and former governor of West Virginia, in a release. “This research shows – in actual dollar values – increasing the high school graduation by just a few percentage points would provide economic mobility to thousands of Utah children and significantly increase the financial wellbeing of everyday, hardworking Utahns.”
For the class of 2015, Utah’s graduation rate was 84.8 percent. Increasing that to 90 percent would have resulted in an additional 2,260 high school diplomas. These graduates would have impacted Utah’s economy in numerous ways, such as $18.1 million in additional spending each year, $1.4 million increase in state and local tax revenue each year, $4.2 million increase in car sales, $74 million increase in home sales, and $16.4 million in health-care cost savings. In total, Utah would see an increase of $42.3 million in annual economic growth and 100 new jobs created.
“The global economy continues to change rapidly, making a commitment to education more important than ever,” said John McKernan, past president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and former governor of Maine. “A high school diploma alone isn’t enough in today’s age but remains a necessary milestone for a child to contribute in their local community and economy.”
Since January of 2010, 99 percent of new jobs in the United States have been awarded to those with a post-high school education. Further, by 2020, 66 percent of Utah jobs will require a post-high school degree or certificate. Compared to high school dropouts, high school graduates are less likely to be unemployed, less likely to enter the criminal justice system, and more likely to have positive outcomes in life, including better health and a longer life span.
“As today’s findings demonstrate, a greater commitment to public education results in remarkable benefits to Utah’s economy,” said Bob Marquardt of the Our Schools Now Executive Committee. “Investing in teachers and students not only allows for kids to succeed tomorrow, but also strengthens our economy and grows our communities. This is another example of why the business community is so strongly supportive of the Our Schools Now initiative.”
For more information on the study, visit GraduationEffect.org.